Cambridge Energy start-up breaks Massachusetts record for venture capital

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Coming from MIT in 2018, Commonwealth is at the forefront of a multitude of companies rushing to build a fusion reactor, which generates energy by bringing atoms together, creating non-polluting energy without producing long-term nuclear waste. Rival Helion Energy in Washington state raised $ 500 million last month, and California-based TAE Technologies raised $ 280 million in April. Government-backed efforts such as the ITER project in France are also underway.

“Economic fusion energy would bring tremendous benefits to the world, enabling us to avert dangerous climate change while enabling everyone to have a high standard of living,” said Boston-area investor Carmichael Roberts, managing partner of Breakthrough Energy Ventures, in a statement. “CFS is striving to achieve the merger on this scale and has the technology that paves the way for us to commercialize over the next decade. “

Breakthrough Energy Ventures, founded by Gates, was an investor in the $ 1.8 billion deal.

The new fundraiser follows the Commonwealth’s successful September test of the world’s most powerful superconducting magnet. Developed in partnership with MIT, the magnet could allow the construction of the first commercially usable fusion power plants. Commonwealth is building a new campus including its prototype fusion reactor, called SPARC, on a 47-acre site in Devens.

External experts agreed that the rise in fundraising is helping to accelerate progress in the field.

“These are exciting times for the magnetic fusion community,” said Chris Hegna, fusion expert and professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “The growth of private sector investment is certainly accelerating the development of fusion energy and offers the possibility of commercially viable fusion energy within a decade.”

Yet a major breakthrough in fusion has always taken place within a few decades, warned Northeastern University physics professor Oleg Batishchev. “There is one constant with nuclear fusion – it was 30 years ahead of us in the past 70 years,” Batishchev said. “But there is hope that mankind will break [through] with renewed efforts.

There is still a lot of work to be done before the Commonwealth has a viable fusion reactor. The company said it plans to demonstrate a “commercially relevant” fusion reactor prototype by 2025 and complete its first fusion power plant in the early 2030s.

“The world is poised to make big investments in commercial fusion as a key part of the global energy transition,” said Commonwealth CEO and co-founder Bob Mumgaard.

The company, which currently employs 175 people, plans to double its workforce this year and complete a manufacturing plant on the Devens campus by the end of next summer, a spokesperson said. While the prototype reactor will also be built at Devens, Commonwealth has yet to start looking for where to build its first full fusion plant.


Aaron Pressman can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on twitter @ampressman.

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